I want to talk about autistic inertia which is what occurred to me yesterday.
When I woke yesterday I was highly motivated to achieve several tasks throughout the day. However I didn’t achieve those tasks because it was difficult and I couldn’t get off the lounge (laying). My mind thought one thing but my body did something else. This is called autistic inertia. You can locate more information on autistic inertia through an internet search as many other Autistic people talk about it.
So, three years ago in 2015-2016, I experienced an autistic burnout and after that my occurrences of autistic inertia increased. (Distraction) Mention of people walking past, hearing their footsteps and birds arguing and singing. I hear sounds to the smallest details and I can become distracted by background noise. I need to focus on this video.
Autistic inertia – I want and need to do something but I can’t. So why does autistic inertia occur? Processing difficulties re undertaking activities first requires planning of what to do and how to do it in our brain. There can be difficulties with processing that information. Some days are harder than other days with processing requirements and abilities.
Autistic inertia is not happening because of laziness or procrastination. If you see an Autistic child or adult experiencing difficulties with changing activities, do not assume it is because of laziness or procrastination. That is not the same thing as experiencing autistic inertia.
Other reasons autistic inertia can occur can be from experiencing anxiety. If the anxiety is particularly high on any given day, it may be difficult to get others things done. Then we need calmness and peacefulness.
It can occur from experiencing difficulties with motor planning. When you want to do something, that first originates from a thought, then you need to plan how to do that activity. For example, if I want to make a sandwich, this involves me getting up, walking to the fridge, locating cheese, tomatoes, butter, bread. Then I have to do this and that to make that bread in sequence. There’s an order and sequence involved with lots of small steps required to get there (motor skills planning and undertaking of motor skills).
If we are experiencing particular difficulties with motor planning that day, autistic inertia can occur.
Autistic inertia can also occur when we need to change (switch) tasks so we can be doing one activity and then it comes time to do another activity. A person can be highly focussed and concentrating on doing one task and then they need to change to another task. That can be difficult. Many parents of Autistic children have described that situation to me whereby their child is fully engaged in doing something they like and are interested in – but it’s then difficult for them to change to doing something other than that activity. However, this may not always be the result of autistic inertia. This could also be resultant from other reasons not related to inertia but it can certainly be resultant from inertia with some people.
Autistic inertia can also occur from requirements re change in energy. So, if I’m engaging in tasks requiring my low energy but I now need to transition to doing high energy tasks, that can be difficult for me. As an example, in the morning I may only be attending to tasks requiring low energy which for me would be feeding the cats, checking their water bowls, making myself a simple breakfast if I am hungry. So my mind is set to low energy mode.
However, if I then had to change that mode to function to high energy such as needing to leave my house, that might be difficult. I would be thinking that the temperature will now change (I can control the temperature in my home as I have a heater) but I cannot control the temperature outside. Then I have to change my clothing from being in comfortable pyjamas to putting day clothes on – plus I have to change clothing which will suit the temperature change. Then I need to get into my car and drive that car. Then when I arrive in that shopping centre, I will be exposed to varied stimuli – noise, lights, music, people walking past. That would be an example of myself needing to use high energy to get through that activity.
If you want to learn more about autistic inertia, you can read about it on the internet. I cannot explain every small detail as we will be here for two hours (giggles) and I can’t last that long with filming. I enjoy making these videos but after 15-20 minutes, it’s enough for me. You will find more information written about autistic inertia in English. I also use an internet translator and dictionary (English/Serbian) to help me with translations.
The final thing I want to say about autistic inertia is that it is not constant and it is inconsistent. It does not not occur everyday. For example, yesterday it was hard for myself to get up from the lounge. I accepted it was just one of those days and decided just to relax and calm myself. I used my squeeze ball for two hours (stim) and I like doing that – it calms me. So I just laid, watched TV and my husband brought me what I needed.
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